Grilling Accessories You Can't Do Without
With hundreds of pieces of grill equipment in the marketplace, it can be difficult to decipher what exactly you need and why. Here are the essentials (apart from the grill of course!):
It doesn't matter if you barbecue with charcoal or gas, fuel is essential to cook food outdoors. Fuel is the top of the list as there is nothing more scary than hosting a barbecue where you have invited all of your friends and family only to find that you can't fire up the barbecue because you have no charcoal or an empty gas bottle. Plan ahead and make sure you have a spare bag of briquettes or a spare gas bottle.
Tongs with Long Handles
Using a short-handled pair of tongs to flip some bacon in a small pan indoors maybe ideal. However, when you are flipping lots of burgers and steaks over a hot fire outdoors, long handles are a necessity for keeping your distance. Look for a pair of tongs with two extended, separate arms that are connected with a hinge, rather than made from one piece of metal. Many options feature a locking mechanism, which can be especially great for storage purposes or if you want to wash it in the dishwasher.
It is also important to look for a pair grilling tongs that are sturdy and durable. Many are made of a plastic or lightweight aluminum that is easily bent and quick to heat. Avoid getting those types of tongs and instead look for well-constructed and hefty models. A scalloped shape at the head of the tongs is a great option because it can allow you to use the tongs for a variety of foods and purposes. There are also designs with loped or forked heads, which can also get the job done but are not ideal for grilling smaller items or ones that can easily break apart.
Brushes for Cleaning the Grates
Just like your dishes, your grate needs to be cleaned after each use. This is essential for making those famous markings on your burgers and steaks. It can also help with the taste and make cooking easier.
If your grates are dirty, caked in food or have burn marks, this can affect the taste of your food and, possibly, cause delicate foods, such as vegetables and fish, to stick to the grill itself. A brush is an essential part of your grill equipment and is a tool you should use to clean after each time you fire up the coals.
Look for brushes with brass or stiff bristles, preferably ones that are replaceable and detachable. You will likely bend, break and gunk up the bristles with time, so having spares and a way to replace the bristle head is a great feature.
If you don't want your food to smell like gasoline, it is best to stay away from lighter fluid, which can impart strange flavors into your grub. A chimney starter is cleaner, faster, better for the environment and can even be more efficient. The starters typically have a tall cylinder made of metal with holes in it and a grate for putting the charcoal in at the bottom.
It is powered by convection, so when paper is at the bottom, it can ignite the coals and allow for the hot air to rise. The holes in the cylinder allow for fresh oxygen to vent through and reach the bottom to help fuel the fire. This handy tool requires nothing more than a match or lighter and some paper to get the fire going.
A thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining whether grilled meats, fish and poultry are done. You won't have to cut into food, wasting delicious juices or overdoing food as a precautionary method of cooking.
Every cook needs spatulas, whether you are in the kitchen or outdoors using a cooker. Depending on how often and what you grill, you will likely need at least two spatulas. Look for a model with a full tang, flexibility and a slanted but strong head. For a full tang, the metal should continue throughout the spatula and handle as one piece.
This is needed to ensure your spatula is built to last. You ideally want a thin metal that is both strong and flexible. This can allow you to flip delicate fish without it breaking as well as larger burgers without the spatula breaking.